Updated: Monday, 6th July 2020 @ 9:45am

Selfridges’ new beauty floor takes shopping for cosmetics to another level

Selfridges’ new beauty floor takes shopping for cosmetics to another level

By Mancunian Matters staff

Most women will tell you that it doesn’t take a scientist to work out that they will stop at nothing to keep their favourite cosmetic product within reach.

In fact, not even world wars and global recessions – never mind a set of escalators in Selfridges – could stand between the two.

Nevertheless, leading retail executives in the boardroom believe in a research-based theory that shows this is not always the case.

The ‘Lipstick Effect’ argues that, in times of economic uncertainty, women are more likely to treat themselves to a less costly luxurious product.

In other words, they’ll forego the Hermès Birkin, but they’ll be damned if they’re letting go of their Mac Viva Glam.

The ‘Lipstick Effect’ goes someway to explaining why many of us would be hard pressed to name a department store that doesn’t house its cosmetics hall at the forefront of the store.

However, when Manchester’s Selfridges store unveiled its incredible new cosmetics floor to customers yesterday, it did away with convention by having it on the lower ground floor.

It’s undeniable that the figuratively speaking ‘stairway to cosmetics heaven’ was a pleasant descent after months of renovation work resulted in a masterpiece which provides the perfect backdrop to highlight row after row of the world’s most luxurious beauty products.

Ben Wilson, Sales Manager at Selfridges’ Exchange Square store, explained the thought process behind the risky decision to transport the beauty hall from the ground to the lower ground floor.

“I think the whole ethos behind the concept of destination beauty is the destination. You have a reason to come here,” said Mr Wilson.

“It’s all about the experience.  Everyone’s welcome to come in. You don’t have to come and spend money in Selfridges, it’s just about the experience and the different brands.”

Selfridges are offering a service that customers simply can’t buy off the shelf or, perhaps more significantly, online – try-before-you-buy, with complimentary makeovers being made available by each brand.

The buzzwords ‘destination’ and ‘experience’ litter the speech of many staff members based within the beauty hall – or should that be within ‘destination beauty?’

These notions contrast sharply with the longstanding idea of cosmetics as impulse purchases i.e. small pick-me-ups that offer change from a five pound note.

Giorgio Armani Makeup, a new brand to the store, offers lipsticks priced at around the £30 mark which is still some way off the price of a Birkin, but surely enough to warrant a complimentary makeover and a trial-sized freebie as standard.

If any brand can transform popping to the shops for an eyeliner into a unique and engaging experience, it is British beauty brand Illamasqua –new to Manchester.

Self-described as ‘make-up for your alter ego’, Illamasqua celebrates theatrical-style self-expression through make up and Head of training Ross Andrewartha was overwhelmed by the high level of interest that customers had shown in the gothic-inspired counter.

“I think it’s the most unusual counter,” said Andrewartha, who also suggested that Mancunians are particularly inclined to embrace the Illamasqua experience.

“In Manchester, people are a lot more open to trying something new.  The girls love to get dressed up. They love any excuse to put a bit of blusher and lipstick on.”

Going against convention, Selfridges might just be at the forefront of a revolution in the way that we shop for cosmetics.  Splurge if you will, observe if you won’t. Either way, you’re sure of an engaging experience.

With this in mind, step on board the escalator. Your destination awaits you.